I woke up this morning after very little sleep way before my alarm went off to the news that Donald Trump was elected. I cried. I cried not because Hillary lost, but because a campaign that we built on fear, hate, and prejudice won. I cried because the man who was elected has a court date set for December for raping a child. I cried because I couldn’t find any words to tell my boys when they woke up.
I sat on Cole’s bed for a long time before he woke up. What was I going to say? As the sun started to peak above the horizon and into his bedroom windows, he spoke before his eyes opened. Who won? Trump did. Trump won. We are all going to die.
As I told him we would be okay, that we would rally, that we would take care of our community and our world, I realized something. I was afraid. Not for me, but for this little boy tiptoeing into puberty because a man who isn’t respected by the world was just elected President, and my little boy’s (who is almost 13) dad is flying a helicopter in a warzone in a location we can’t know because he has dedicated his life to protect our country. My fear became real, and I could see on his face he was worried about his dad.
In the midst of my tears and heartbreak, I needed comfort. I needed something to believe in about the man who was just elected President. I reached out to my cousin Mike who is as opposite as it comes to me in his political views, but is someone I love and respect. I knew we could have a honest dialogue. I knew we could talk without judgment of emotion, without taking personal each others opinions, and I knew he could tell me why he voted for Trump. I love and respect his family. I trust his family. We’ve had so many healthy conversations about life, politics, and raising our families that I know he wants what I want in life. He welcomed my questions. He took time to explain his perspective. I found comfort in his words.
I would describe Mike as a conservative Christian.
Mike would describe me as a liberal hippie.
But for the past few months we engaged in so many healthy conversation about how to raise our families and how to shape our country. Our approach may be different, but our outcome is always the same. We’ve never offended. We’ve never insulted. We’ve never defended. We’ve discussed. Although my heart is sad today and my mind is in disbelief, I am choosing to trust that the rest of this country voted for Donald Trump for the same reason as my cousin. I’m choosing to trust that it is because they want change in politics and not because they believe in the fear and hate based rhetoric of the Trump campaign.
As I was getting ready to walk out the door to work this morning, my husband said to me You look pretty today.
Do you know how I responded? I said Great because that’s all I’ll amount to in this country.
And for a moment I believed it. Shame on me. We didn’t elect our first female president yesterday. We didn’t support a campaign that is based on human rights for all humans, but no one will ever determine my value. Only I can decide if I’m worthy, and I know I’m more than just a pretty face.
With my Rise mala around my neck, I drove to work today and one thought kept echoing in my heart. Now is not the time to sit pretty and be quiet. Now is the time to rise. Now is the time to feed my passion, to use my voice, and to push so generations after me don’t have to push so hard. Change never starts at the top. Change starts at the bottom. It starts in our communities and with our families. It starts with the individual.
When every single person in this country knows that they have value, we will have succeeded. When we all feel safe, we will have won. When we all know our voices are heard (even if it’s just healthy dialogue with the cousin who appears to be nothing like you), we won’t be threatened by the voice of an other. We will celebrate our diversity. We will change the world.
I’m starting small. I’m starting with my boys, and I’m starting with the girls who are just like me. I reached out to our local YWCA on my lunch break to inquire about working with their Sexual Assault Support Service group (Find your local group through the RAINN website). I found my voice, my courage, and my strength after I was raped. Maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else find their voice too. This year and this election have left my scars and my wounds feeling raw, but I know how to rise above it. I can share that gift.
Changing the energy of our world with one confident worthy individual at a time. I can’t control the next four years, but I can continue the campaign of human rights and equality. I can share my voice.
A rising is coming regardless of if we support today’s outcome or not. Let this election mobilize us. Let it stun us into action. Let us begin. We all have a lot of work to do.